In this blog, one of a series on writing a blog, I’ll explain why and how to research content. Even for experts, research is important for building your reputation. Gathering citations, quoting other experts, and getting the basic facts straight is key to reinforcing your authority and expertise.
Researching Content For Your Blog is Easy
This often-overlooked step causes bloggers a lot of heartache. One wrong fact, one unattributed quote, and you’re an Internet meme. There goes the reputation you worked so hard to build.
- Don’t assume you know everything in your field, even if it seems that nothing has changed in a long time.
- Don’t assume your memory is perfect, even if you’re an expert. Especially if you’re an expert.
- Part of being a pro is knowing who the other pros are. Giving credit where credit is due makes you look like an authority–and a good person.
Confirm the Facts
Take some time to research content for your blog topic. Review recent data so you’re current. Check even the simple things: the correct spelling of a name, complete titles, accurate organization names, dates of important events you mention. This sounds trivial, but it reinforces your credibility; if you can’t get the basics right, readers will wonder what else you’ve gotten wrong.
Gather Quotes to Support Your Content
This is another way to improve your SEO, but more importantly, it also helps communicate credibility. If you can, interview colleagues and influencers and get their opinions. You can use this information in two ways: to support your position, or to refute someone else’s view. Either way, it gives you something to write about.
Always, always, always give credit to your sources (unless they prefer to remain anonymous, of course).
Look for Instructive Images
Researching content for your blog goes beyond words and data. You’ll want to include supporting images in your post. Look for visuals that add meaning. Charts and graphs are great for illustrating complex concepts, data, and trends quickly.
Collect attribution information for each image so you can give appropriate credit in your post. Do this even for free images. It’s the right thing to do.
Use Canva to create images, infographics, and social media-ready posts. The free version may be robust enough for your purposes, though the subscription is reasonably priced.
There are a number of sources for stock images. Getty Images, Shutterstock, Pexels, Unsplash, Nappy.co, and Pixabay are all places to explore. I love Unsplash for its inclusive pictures: size, gender, skin color, people from all walks of life. Nappy is another great source for high-quality images of Black people.
Tips for Success
If you’re not exactly Michaelangelo, consider investing in a graphic artist to help. Someone with a trained eye can probably create what you need quickly–and it’s a lot less expensive than doing it yourself.
Consider your readers when you’re looking for images. Do pictures of people represent your target audience? Photos of nothing but white people are, well, boring. They also communicate an unwelcoming message.
For heaven’s sake, don’t grab text or images from someone else’s website without asking permission from the owner. You can get yourself in a heap of trouble that way–not to mention having to fork out money when the lawyers come calling. Don’t believe me? Read this post from Kelley Way, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property. (She addresses fair use content in another blog post.)
If you’re curious about Parts 1 through 3 of this series on how to write a blog:
- How to Write a Blog, Part 1, gives you an overall approach to guide your blog writing efforts. A little bit of structure can be a good thing.
- Part 2: Plan for Strong Results walks you through how to plan out a series of blog posts. Why go to all the work of writing a blog if you don’t have a goal?
- Part 3: Why Care About SEO addresses the topic that some writers love it hate. It isn’t all that painful, honest.
Need Help Now?
Do you need ideas on how to research content for your blog? Do you want to brainstorm? Schedule some time to talk with me. I may be able to give you ideas on how to punch up your prose with research.